Director: Mikael Salomon
Writer: Graham Yost
Cinematographer: Peter Menzies, Jr.
by Jon Cvack
Coming a handful of years before CGI would completely take over the blockbuster, this movie is impressive, though it does have one of the worst opening CGI shots I’ve ever seen. I can see the director demanding one of the greatest long takes ever, starting from a high God’s eye view, descending down, hovering right above the Armored Truck and following it to the bank. The fade from CGI to an actual truck is quite something.
Other than that, I can’t think of another film that I want to see the ‘making of’ so badly. The sets include a street, house, church, graveyard, and school - all flooded, with endless rain pouring down. Contrary to the opening shot it doesn’t look fake. It looks elaborate and expensive.
The story kicks off strong. Armored truck driver Uncle Charlie (Edward Asner) gets his nephew Tom (Christian Slater) a job. While transporting bank money during the flood, they’re stopped by robbers and a gunfight breaks out. Charlie dies, Tom makes off with the money and the hunt is on.
Betty White makes an awesome guest appearance. Not as a comedian but as a paranoid homeowner who refuses to leave and sets up bear traps beneath all the windows to keep looters out. It also contains one of the most incredibly tense hold-your-breath scenes involving Tom trapped in a jail cell as the prison begins to flood. Any worthwhile drowning scene is going to make you hold your breath when the head goes under. This scenes make me choke just thinking about it. Each character has personality. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman-Bad, which is always a rare treat. He’s leader of the crew including Ray (Ricky Harris) who quotes bible passages with spoken word flow, the idiotic and overly confident Kenny (Michael Goorjian), and the third leg as a chemistry teacher turned bad (Peter Murnik as Phil) whose students have taught him how to build homemade explosives. The woman, Karen (Minnie Driver), is packing up and protecting the stained glass which she designed at one of the local churches. What a smart way to shoot in a beautiful location. This movie encapsulates what any action film should contain. It transports you into another world that's both believable and terrifying, keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Of course, this could all be biased the way it is with any movie I loved growing up. For some reason the classic 90s actions films I grew up with always give me the same feelings as when I was young, immersing me within the world, where I fully believed everything I was watching. Regardless, good characters and good plot in a high intensity plot always equals greatness.
BELOW: Tom struggles to escape from his prison cell in the all time greatest hold-your-breath scenes
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